Wendy James was the lead singer of Transvision Vamp, a brilliant pop-punk band of the late 80s/early 90s. After they split, she did release a solo album, Now Ain't The Time For Your Tears, but all the songs on that were written by Elvis Costello. Racine, however, is Wendy James' first true solo project --- she wrote all the songs, taught herself to play all the instruments and how to produce the songs.
And Number One is a strange album. Not strange in the sense of "Wow, did you hear that?" but more strange in a head-scratching, puzzling way. Racine sounds nothing like Transvision Vamp but in a sense, why should it? It's been over 10 years since Wendy was last musically active and she was never the main songwriter of Transvision Vamp. Number One features a series of incredibly laid-back sweet pop songs with a slight electronic flavour with Wendy crooning in a wistful and somewhat nostalgic way (a theme that's echoed in the album's artwork). The lyrics are charming but repetitive with references to the Beat poets and vintage Americana. The songs are all pleasant enough without being particularly outstanding or memorable. It makes great background music to a lazy Sunday brunch on a sunny day and it has enough curiousity value to make me want to check out what Wendy does next.
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN OCTOBER 2005.